On a trip to the Midwest, I was struck by two camp connections I encountered. I was in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a fairly unlikely place to happen upon Maine camp devotees. Here an enclave of Runoia fanatics created by Camp Runoia’s Director of Equestrian Programs exist. While visiting new families and meeting staff last weekend, I had two striking conversations with two different people.
The first was a camp mom. Her daughter is a quiet and introverted person who made a huge leap to attend sleepaway summer camp in Maine. With the intrigue of riding often and being in a friendly place where she would be encouraged to try new things in a supportive place, she nervously arrived last summer to camp. In her quiet way, it was hard for us extroverts to know if she was having a good time – when asked she shyly replied “yes” and glanced away.
Months later as I’m chatting with her mom at a weekend horse show, I heard her perspective about how she liked camp from her mom: she rode a lot, met a lot of people, took a lot art classes at camp, excelled at archery and left Camp Runoia with a sense of confidence she didn’t know she had. Her mom asked her on a scale of 1-10 how would she rate it? She replied 9. What could have made it better? Attending camp earlier in her life. That conversation, with a Midwestern December blizzard carrying on outside the barn, left me warm and toasty in the cold and breezy spectators area next to the arena where the show was going on.
The second conversation that struck me was with one of our camp counselors and Runoia riding instructors from two summers ago. She also attended the horse show run by Mane Event. She rode a horse owned by our Director and was champion in her class this weekend! She was happy to see me and before she left the show to drive home in the snow storm – leaving herself plenty of day light and time to get back safely – she sought me out to say goodbye.
She shared with me how being a camp counselor helped her be a solid Resident Assistant at her college. She says camp training provided her with “tools in her toolkit” she uses all the time at college. She thanked me for giving her the opportunity to hold one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs she’s ever had and how it has prepared her for life.
In the midst of this snow storm, in a place in the plains, far away from camp and my home, I glowed with warmth from these messages about Camp Runoia. Whether you are reading this from your warm home on a cold winter day or from your office in a mild climate, you can be warmed by the thought of camp and all it has to offer people through its simple yet profound experience.
It’s a warm season albeit winter in Maine. Enjoy!